One of the main factors impeding the bioremediation of polluted soils, sediments, and aquifers is the low bioavailability of chemicals which are sorbed by organic matter. To obtain more insight into the factors that control the degradation of sorbed compounds, we used a defined model system in which 3-chlorodibenzofuran (3CDF) was the organic contaminant, porous Teflon granules were the sorbent, and Sphingomonas sp. strain HH19K was the test organism. The sorption of 3CDF to Teflon reached equilibrium within 150 min. The curved shape of the sorption isotherm, the extent of sorption, and the desorption kinetics suggested that there was a surface interaction (adsorption) between 3CDF and Teflon which took place mainly inside the pores of the granules. The kinetics of desorption could be ascribed to sorption- retarded radial diffusion inside the granules since the desorption rate not only was correlated with the sorbed-phase concentration, but also depended on the equilibration status of sorption, since (i) the high initial desorption rate sharply declined because of the depletion of 3CDF in the outermost parts of the granules, but high rates were observed again after the system had been given time to reequilibrate, and (ii) the initial desorption rate was higher when the preceding contact time between sorbate and sorbent was shorter (i.e., most 3CDF was still located in the exterior parts of the granules). These characteristics were observed irrespective of whether the desorption was driven by percolating water through the sorbent or by attaching active bacteria to the sorbent. 3CDF consumption by attached cells drove 3CDF desorption to a considerable extent. The attached cells were thus efficiently supplied with desorbing 3CDF. On the basis of our results, we propose that the rate at which a sorbed substrate becomes available for organisms is influenced by (i) the specific affinity of the degrading organisms (i.e., their ability to reduce the aqueous substrate concentration) and (ii) the tendency of the organisms to adhere to the sorbent.